Bulletin Board Diaries: My Farrier Lady
In the age of online advertising, some people still use the old-school method to promote stuff they want to buy and sell –– by posting on bulletin boards in laundromats, restaurants and other establishments.
In this installment of the series, a business card found on a bulletin board at a Lebanon restaurant leads producer Jerry Kenney to a horse barn in Franklin, Ohio.
Horse stalls run along the length of both sides of the barn. Three small bleating baby goats announce their presence from inside one of the stalls, huddling together in some hay.
Across from them in another stall are the two horses Chrystina Green here to see.
Chrystina is a farrier who specializes in what's known as “barefoot trimming.” That means she works with horses that don’t wear iron horseshoes.
She also provides hoof care for donkeys, mules and small livestock animals. Farriers have been organized as a profession for more than 700 years.
On this visit Chrystina will work with horses Jobe and Hank; she'll trim and balance their hooves while evaluating their overall state of health. She introduces me to Hank. He's a big, brown horse with hooves the size of dinner plates.
So, Hank is a draft horse and he’s 25 years old," she says. "[His owners] just got him a few months ago and he’s still trying to gain weight. That’s why he looks the way he does.”
Hank is essentially a rescue horse. He should weigh about 2,000 pounds, but Chrystina says when his new owners found him, Hank was at least 500 pounds underweight.
Starting with one of his back legs, Chrystina begins her work.
She places Hank's leg hoof side up in a sturdy metal stand. First, she cleans and trims the frog, the triangular center of the hoof. She then trims and balances the hoof wall, and file finishes the bottom and side edges.
Chrystina is basically giving Hank a super-sized mani-pedi. But what she’s doing is more about the horse's health than making his hooves look nice.
Horse hooves are made from a tough protein called keratin, the same material that human nails and hair are made of. The hooves carry a lot of weight. And they grow, so they need to be trimmed and kept even to prevent balance issues.
As she works, Chrystina explains that only domesticated horses need the services of a farrier.
“Wild horses do not have to have their hooves trimmed because they do it themselves. They travel about 25 miles a day and don’t have to worry about human interference helping them.”
Chrystina is 27 years old. Her long, wavy blonde hair is pulled back into a pony tail.
She wears blue jeans and a sweater, thick rubber boots and a pink apron, though it's not the kitchen variety. This apron is more like the chaps typically worn by bull riders. On her hands are a pair of tough leather gloves.
The connection she has with her equine clients is apparent.
“Not every horse is easy to trim, I’ll tell you that," she says. "I’ve got a couple ponies that, whenever I try to trim them they go, ‘hmmm, I’m just going to stand here for a second. Now I’m going to sit. Quite a few of them sit like dogs. They pull their feet under them, they sit and they stare at you. It’s like, ‘please get up.' No, I don’t want to.”
Chrystina finishes with one of Hank’s hooves and starts to work on the others. Hank’s trimming takes a while because of his age and past neglect.
A foul smell emanates from an infected hoof as Chrystina cleans out dirt and other debris. She tells me it’s improved since her last visit but it’s clearly still causing Hank distress.
In one intense moment, the horse suddenly pulls his leg back, knocking over the stand and defiantly stomping his hoof in protest.
Chrystina comforts Hank and deftly continues with her job.
“It’s a lot of work. It really is. I mean, if you don’t mind being dirty or being kicked or coming home smelling like horses, it’s a great job. It’s not for the faint of heart.”
It takes her more than an hour to finish caring for Hank's hooves, and the hooves of another horse named Jobe, a retired show horse.
Her career path came as a bit of a surprise for Chrystina, who says she didn’t grow up on a farm and only started riding horses at the age of 20. She learned the farrier trade after getting a horse of her own and has been doing the work for about six years.
Her workload varies. On one day, Chrystina could trim the hooves of as many as nine horses. The next day, just two.
"The most I’ve ever trimmed in one day, which I regret, is 15. Fifteen full horses. It’s a lot of hard work and you’re just, Aleve, a hot shower, 10 hours of sleep and you should be fine, but sometimes it takes more than a day to rebound from it," she says.
Chrystina currently works with roughly 160 animals and says she develops a close bond with most them.
“I really care about my horses that I trim. They’re not mine but I try to get to know them and sometimes you become attached. You know they’re not yours, it’s like the worst part is when you get a call that they’ve passed away.”
After leading Hank and Jobe back into their stalls, Chrystina packs up her tools and sits down on the barn floor.
In a notebook, she records details on each horse's condition and the work she performed, and schedules her next visit.
She’ll be back to this barn to do it all over again in about six weeks.
This story is part of Bulletin Board Diaries. In the age of online advertising, some people still choose the old school method of promoting things they want to buy and sell: by posting an advertisement on bulletin boards found in neighborhood laundromats, restaurants and grocery stores around town. WYSO’s Bulletin Board Diaries series will take listeners on a personal, sometimes funny, always surprising journey of discovery, to reveal some of the hidden stories of the people behind these bulletin board advertisements. Who are they? What experiences can they share? And what do their stories tell us about life in the Miami Valley?
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